So, you made an unpopular game

Or as my teacher always said, “If at first you don’t succeed break someone’s kneecaps.” They weren’t a teacher for very long.


Now I’m not a HG or a GoG writer, I am writing a story - a fanfiction, though, but that’s not why I’m commenting (even though I adore my story and the characters in it).

I’m taking the advice here and applying it to my HSC, although it’s not started yet. All my classmates and I have been doing is studying for it, and that’s both boring and stressful.

So now that I’ve read this, and planning on using the relevant information for my HSC, I’m going to add one more pease of advice:

Do not get lost in the waves of negative criticism, wether they be reviews from the App Store or marks on a test. Keep in mind what you are good at, what you excel in, and don’t forget it. Because it’s important, that you remember that you are good at something, and that you will keep improving.


Hey, you probably expected me to pop in this thread at some point. I really appreciate the post, Cap, but it’s hard to say that this helped me ease my mind a bit, especially with me struggling to stay afloat in the dumps, and ending the post on a harsh truth. (I’m not at that point in my character arc yet, okay?)

I agree, but I’m unhappy for a different reason.

I don’t care much for financial success or popularity (not that I’d say no to it of course), but I realize now that the goal I set out for sharing my WIP is honestly not even feedback, I just want a discussion board, a place to just bounce off ideas with other people. Much of my early story development was a result of talking to other writers, and the few times I felt like I figured everything out in my story, I actually felt unhappy because it feels like I don’t have anything more to look forward to.

I have a lot more unexplored ideas and concepts now since I’ve restructured my story, and I’m just excited to explore it all and share and talk about it with someone. Don’t get me wrong, most of the feedback I receive is very positive, but at the same time, I just don’t want to reply a thank you, I want to talk about it with you! Give me something to talk about! It makes me more happy than a compliment.

I’m not out of the dumps yet, but I’m happier now that I created a Tumblr blog – it gives me an excuse not to just talk about my story and characters, but also develop them at the same time.

Yup, I’ve learned a lot from when I made my first attempt. One thing I’ve noticed though, is that romance usually makes up most of the discussions, and I’ll say that it’s just as important of a factor as genre, if not more.

As an aside

I’m also excited to join an upcoming short story game jam to try out some new things. My current project technically meets the popular genres (and have some romance too), so I want to see if a more conventional main character and title would work for me. I figured it’d be the best environment to test that while also learning something new. I’m not abandoning my main project for it, of course.

Also, I’ll say that while Failure may be the best teacher, I don’t think they’re anyone’s favorite teacher either. Boo.

I don’t have much to say here. I tend to prefer long stories as a reader, I like long stories as a writer, and even the first line of my story is about the MC preferring longer stories.

I wanted to write my story in an interactive format specifically to get around pesky wordcount limitations books have.

Hey, the good thing about having an expansive story universe is that any story I make means they’re all tied together in some way. Tying your stories together (you can set them in the past or the future, or just another dimension) can maybe help lessen the disappointment of writing a different story.

I realize most of your points here (and your previous point) are more focused on those with already completed projects, so this doesn’t exactly apply. But I just want to say that while I’m still in the development process, you shouldn’t be afraid to make tweaks, compromises, or trying out new things if it’s alright with you anyway. That’s the approach I’m doing, at least.

And hey, sometimes it’s better to try than not try something at all. You can always revert it if it doesn’t work out.

Welp, on second thought, maybe it did help me ease my mind a bit by talking this out. Thanks, Cap.


One thing to consider as well, I think, is that sometimes I completely miss work in progress games and randomly trip over them much later, sometimes even ‘too late’. I bet this happens to many people. The more WIPs, the more new threads, well, the easier it is to miss something.


Sometimes, being successful/popular isn’t about having a big hit, it’s about slowly and painstakingly building up your reputation. The more work you publish, even if they’re not big hits individually, will naturally garner a few new readers here and there. Keep at it, and eventually, you’ll likely end up with a healthy following. From there, who knows what could happen?

To me, the focus of writing shouldn’t be on getting one big hit or a bunch of exposure all at once. Now, you may get that, some people do after all. But what you should really keep in mind is that everything you publish will build you a following over time, regardless of what it is you write. There’s an audience for basically everything, whether it’s currently mainstream or not, so, don’t let writing for a niche genre dissuade you.

Just keep at it and eventually you’ll attract followers, and the more you attract the more likely you are to be successful in writing. Like I said, it’s a painstakingly slow process that I myself have just begun, but it’ll pay off in the end. After all, we live in an age where it’s actually easier than ever to make a living being a writer, as much as it might feel like the opposite sometimes.


This is a point I strongly agree with. Wayhaven’s popularity is usually attributed to its impressive focus on romance but that overlooks the fact that both of the published books are about 750,000-900,000 words each. That is a lot of content to get through in both books and even if you somehow didn’t enjoy the story, you would be hard pressed to come out of that thinking “It wasn’t worth the money”

Marketing of course is another crucial but sometimes seemingly neglected factor. I get release notifications for some games and atimes it’s the first I’ve ever seen or heard of them. Taking the time to create media pages, FAQs, Tumblr, art etc can help to get people excited and tuned in regardless of the actual state of the product.
An example is “Shepherds of Haven” which I basically loved before I even played the demo


I’m not convinced these are a huge help for games that don’t already have at least a reasonable following. The other danger is that they can turn into huge time sinks slowing down the process of getting a game finished. I guess I’d caution trying to heavily market your game with extra media pages just for popularity unless you have enough time spare and it’s likely to be worth your while doing so. Sometimes the best thing you can do is get a game out there and become known that way.

Another thing I think a lot of people underestimate is just being around on the forums. There are so many WIPs going, no one can possibly follow them all. Give people a reason to look up your work. Take the time to answer questions (coding questions, questions on released games, respond to polls etc), read and comment on the other games, ESPECIALLY other under rated ones. (Just pointing this out guys. It’s great to follow popular games, they’re usually popular for good reason, BUT only interacting on the threads for those games is causing the exact problem you’re trying to fix if you have a game with little community activity.)

And when it’s all said and done, the entire audience for COGs is not on the forums. It is entirely possible have a game that gets good feedback here which doesn’t do particularly well in the stores. (Usually the two often correlate, but not always.) Conversely, not having a huge number of people subscribing to your game here, does not mean a death knell for it if you want to publish.

What hustlertwo is saying is fantastic advice and I’d echo all of it. IMO make your first game something YOU want to write. Pick something you find enjoyable, and make the goal to get a game done. That way, you’ve had a success regardless of how it is received on the stores. Go through the feedback, ignore anything unhelpful or troll-y, then consider what to take on board out of the more constructive crit and see if you can use that to do better next time.

If you have your heart set on a possible best seller, then yeah. Increase your chances by writing in the favoured genres, undefined MCs, long length, largely linear story structure, set up social media sites, lots of RO’s etc, etc, etc. But that won’t help if you don’t get the game finished and out there. I know this goes against everything popular and I’ve said it before, but for amateur authors, writing a “short” game (keep it under 150k, in fact aim for 100k as you almost always get length blow out) is a really good idea as your first effort. It allows you to get a game done, learn from any mistakes and then go on to write something better next time. Shorter games are easier to get finished and have them well polished for release. A solid although non-best selling short game as a first effort, is going to be less hearbreaking than a long game you’ve been working at for years that doesn’t do particularly well.

I also have membership in the “my first game was not received well” club, and learned a lot from it. Don’t stress, do the best you can, learn from it, and above all write your first game because you want to, and don’t feel like your self worth as a writer needs to hinge totally on the outcome of that attempt.

(Edit- Actually my last game sold a lot less well than my first game, which I expected and went into with eyes wide open. (I probably should attempt to write something that might be commercially viable sooner or later I guess, ah well :sweat_smile:.) Still, despite being a commercial failure, it was something I wanted to finish, and I still got a real kick out of people who left reviews or told me they liked it. (Big thank you to all those who took the time to do that! Authors love hearing someone read and liked something we put out there :blush:) But yeah, not being a best seller does not mean you as a writer can’t still be satified with what you’ve written.)


That’s usually how they got the huge following in the first place

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I don’t know. Wayhaven didn’t come by its massive audience on an Internet forum; nor did Robots, which was long CoG’s sales blockbuster; and while I love the Rebels forum community, it’s much, much smaller than the buyer base.

A lot of customers find these games on the app stores or Steam – a lot more, I think, than are referred to them by an online fan community. And that audience seems to be largely drawn in by genre, word count, and reviews.


This is a great thread and thank you for making it.

At one time I had one of the most popular games on the platform, and even though my most recent game is popular, reviews have been less than stellar. So you can even make a popular game in terms of sales/downloads and still “fail.”

In writing VTM: out for Blood, I had a fairly strict timeline, and towards the end, that timeline got the better of me. I did have to deal with some illness and a surprise surgery that took me out of commission for a few weeks, but I still rushed the ending. That’s the number one complaint from readers, and the ratings are reflecting that.

It hurts because I have been a fan of Vampire: The Masquerade for decades. Writing an officially licensed game was a dream come true. When I first learned I would be writing OfB, I promised myself it would be the best game out there. So it really hurts that the first release is viewed as adequate by the majority of readers.

The great thing about writing choice games is that we can make changes even after we publish. We can add new content, and I’m currently making changes based on all the feedback I have received.

For those of you who are starting out with your first game, consider that the first one will probably not be your best. You will make a lot of mistakes, and it may not sell well. But use that game as an opportunity to talk to your readers and get them to join your social media. Learn how to run a successful beta or to recruit beta readers. Gain experience in Choicescript and with the publishing process. Use the time in writing and publishing that first game to learn and experiment and interact.


Jim, I don’t know how to break it to you, but you still have one of the most popular games on the platform. Or to be more accurate, two of them. You haven’t technically had a standalone HG release in five years (obviously, ignoring your significant DLC efforts), yet this week’s bestselling list shows your Zexiness at #5 and #10.


@JimD Does CoG give extensions? A surprise surgery seems like an acceptable reason to extend the deadline.


I wasn’t trying to be humble or seek praise, but I really didn’t think it was still THAT popular. Wayhavens, Fallen Hero, SoH…I see them as the top. I also think my ZE series rankings have the benefit of early downloads.

Are these rankings in the Omnibus app?

Yes, they were very understanding (especially Jason, my editor). Because the release date was public and on Steam and was also advertised by the World of Darkness, my deadlines could only be adjusted so much.


Oh and @hustlertwo I’m familiar with having an unpopular game firsthand, I meant to add that earlier. It took me a while mentally to bounce back from Zip! not doing well. I’m really proud of the story, the characters, etc., and it’s more balanced than anything I’ve written thus far. I put a lot of mental energy into creating that new universe, and I really enjoyed writing a more adult MC, but yeah…it makes very little and it’s depressing. I love the villains and feel it has a more “comic book” vibe than CCH does.

(I also co-write Starship Adventures which doesn’t do well at all, but I take much more ownership of Zip! so it stings much much more)


Well, the tip top is pretty much Wayhaven alone at this point. I think Fallen has a real chance to ascend to that higher state of being with the next one, but no one else exists in that realm. SoH might come close only in aggregate for all four (it has the advantage in number of entries in the series over everyone else), but even then I’m not certain. And yes, those are omnibus rankings. Admittedly, the first ZEx is not always that high; it falls in and out of the top 10 and 15 at times. But Safe Haven is one of those handful of titles that is in the top few spots every week. It does not take vacations. It does not feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever.

@Eric_Moser The issues Zip had were not really quality-related. I think I actually enjoyed the playing of it a bit more than the first CCH, even if that one had a more engaging world simply by process of having way more space to build it in. Some of the lack of popularity was losing the school setting (that’s a very popular subgenre, make no mistake), and much more of it was its length. Not being a standalone release also hurt tremendously. But hey, it was experimental. The nature of experiments is sometimes they don’t yield the desired results. And it’s not like you were alone in that regard; a couple stories were done in that similar vein at that time and all of them struggled. Misery does love company.


I’ve always been better-served by a kick in the pants than a sympathetic ear, so this is for those like me:

This dropdown best read while listening to Eye of the Tiger.

Commercial or critical “failure” is a rite of passage, and sometimes you don’t pass it. H.P. Lovecraft died without knowing the influence he would become. His last letters show him wondering if it was even worth it. Poe died in near-poverty. If any of you writers think you’re better than Poe, I’ve got news for you. F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gatsby, Tender is the Night) was more or less boo-ed out of Hollywood, and boy can they churn out shit. Stick around long enough, and you’ll know a hundred such stories.

A high mark in the publishing world has become placement in Wal Mart or Target shelves. Actually. Direct correlation to high sales. The next time you’re there, take a look at what’s on the shelf. You’ve got to ask yourself why you do it. I was fortunate enough to study at Oxford the year “50 Shades of Grey” constituted >90% of worldwide book sales. In one seminar, my instructor had me type out sections, word by word. During my convocation ceremony, they cited Percy Bysshe Shelley (Ozymandias) as an alumnus, but they expelled him for writing an atheism pamphlet. The ones that know, know. Don’t get down, get better. If you want status or money, do something else. Really. The odds are better elsewhere, the learning curve less curvy. And you won’t have to answer Lord Byron about those damned “golden roofs.”


I don’t know what I like better, the post or the song. I’ve owned the Rocky 4 soundtrack on CD since high school, and it’s always a great listen to get pumped.

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Where do you think that Historical/History based games land on the scale from 0 Being not sought after/looked at (For example, frightening horror games) to 10 (Fantasy and Romance stories)?



I think there were two stories that came out recently, one of which was sub 100k in the word count. The other was higher. The cost difference between the two was negligible, so which do I go without? The one that gives me the most bang for my buck.

Also, if a writer is doing a longer story, then typically I think I find more nuances based off choice or at least a more fleshed out world to be in. In short, my perception is that the writer cared more about what they’re writing with the larger story than the smaller and they get my money.

Outliers do exist, of course, however I’m typically pleased with the purchases made with this mindset.


Do you think that stories which are long in a single playthrough sell better (Something like The Great Tournament, I know it is free but if it was to be released as paid tomorrow) or do stories that while if you look at one playthrough they may appear short, but the choices are very in depth and the story goes lots of different ways?